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Beginner Trip Suggestion? 3 days, 10/7-10/9

Backpacking and camping basics and other general trip planning discussion for the uninitiated. Use this forum to learn where to look for the information you need, and to ask questions, related to the beginner basics of backpacking and camping, including technique and best practices.
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Beginner Trip Suggestion? 3 days, 10/7-10/9

Postby Talimon » Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:21 am

I am taking a friend who hasn't backpacked before to the mountains, and was wondering if anyone had good suggestions for an "introductory" 3-day trip. We are coming from the Bay Area, and would prefer not to drive much more than 4 or 5 hours. The main goal is to show him some spectacular scenery.

My original hope was Ediza lake out of Agnew Meadows, but I'm a little worried about the cold weather forecast for this weekend (low 20's?). It seems like the coming cold front will leave most of the Sierra frigid, but if there is anywhere that would be a bit warmer that would be preferable.

He is in good shape, but probably no more than 7-8 miles and 2000 ft elevation per day. An ideal trip would be to have a layover day at a lake, with possibilities of some wandering around.



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Re: Beginner Trip Suggestion? 3 days, 10/7-10/9

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:32 am

If you are not comfortable with any amount of snow, wind, rain, and potentially cables on the car and driving in snow (or driving the loooooong way around if you are caught on the east side of the range and a pass closes), I'd suggest going to Point Reyes. Actually, this is the time of year for coastal backpacking. Less fog (as you probably know). It may still rain, and in buckets, but you won't have to even suspect you'll need to drive in any amount of snow.

Point Reyes also has the plus of meeting your non-frigid criteria as you will be camped within a mile of the ocean - it won't freeze there. It's also an excellent beginner backpack as there will be zero chance of elevation sickness issues. And if you do get buckets of rain and bug out in the middle of the trip, it's not that long a drive home.

Other backpacking opportunities would be Pat Springs out of Bottcher's Gap with a long day hike to the Double Cone (moderately strenuous), Sykes Hot Springs and Ventana Cone out of the Big Sur Ranger Station parking area, or Henry Coe - all of which are inland some miles from the ocean and likely to be very cold at night unless you camp up out of the river bottoms, but less likely to become a winter expedition.

I am sure I am erring on the side of caution, but I tend to do that with beginners - if you want them to actually enjoy and come back for more, giving them an easy first time out is best. A bit of snow or sleet for me is fun - it freaks beginners out as they aren't prepared for it mentally, unless they are accustomed to some amount of weather already.
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Re: Beginner Trip Suggestion? 3 days, 10/7-10/9

Postby Talimon » Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:43 am

Big Sur is always a decent option, but we were hoping for the Sierra. I have done a decent amount of backpacking in the Sierra in October, so I'm not out of my element in unpredictable weather. I have good gear for cold conditions, and for myself I wouldn't think twice about it, but I'm trying to err on the side of caution, as you say. I was just hoping there might be something at lower elevation where he could still get some dramatic scenery.
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Re: Beginner Trip Suggestion? 3 days, 10/7-10/9

Postby balzaccom » Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:00 am

You mighty try Lost Lake and Sword Lake in the Carson-Iceberg wilderness, just north of Higwhay 108 above Sonora.

We've got a trip report on that one on our website. And you do get to camp at a beautiful spot overlooking Spicer Reservior....
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Beginner Trip Suggestion? 3 days, 10/7-10/9

Postby tim » Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:09 am

Desolation Wilderness is a good bet for a quick weekend trip and a nice intro for beginners. The hike in from Echo Lake along the PCT is easy (remember no boat this time of year), though Lake Aloha itself is probably a bit exposed - Lake of the Woods is probably a better bet (both are 5-6 miles in). It doesn't look like the snow will stick around for long at that altitude (max is 8200ft). You can get permits online through recreation.gov (and print them out, no need to go to a ranger station) so that side of things is simple.
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Re: Beginner Trip Suggestion? 3 days, 10/7-10/9

Postby no2haven » Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:10 am

Leavitt Meadows off of Sonora pass might be good - the first day would be pretty mellow down the valley (you only gain about 1000 feet in the first 8-10 miles) and then you could dayhike up to either the Dorothy Pass area for some granite, towards Tower Peak, up to Beartrap Lake, etc and do the higher elevation stuff during the day when its warmer. Relatively low elevation (7k-10k unless you climb some peaks).

Similarly Kennedy Meadows on the west side of the pass is quite nice. Steeper initially (the first 3ish miles is a 1500 or so foot climb to the reservoir if I recall), but Relief Reservoir is very scenic with lots of granite. Good dayhiking options up to lunch meadows and Blackhawk peak, Kennedy something (Lake? meadow again? its a nice alpine meadow/valley), or farther into the Emmigrant Wilderness. Also low-ish elevation and on the close side of the pass if things are really icy. The main path in the Emmigrant Wilderness might also be good for a quick trip, but I haven't been there.

Neither of these are as dramatic as the Ritter/Banner group, but still great mountain scenery.
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Re: Beginner Trip Suggestion? 3 days, 10/7-10/9

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:41 pm

Sonora Pass (or on the way to it) has some good options, the Emigrant was my first trip as a kid and it was very do-able and gorgeous into the bargain. Or heading in via Cherry Lake to Eleanor and the southwestern corner of Yosemite.

I wasn't maligning you - just very aware of how many SAR callouts there have been lately. We are on high alert this week due to the incoming storm. There was just a SAR out last weekend in Sequoia-Kings NP for a man who is himself rescue personnel. We have a lot of people with experience getting caught out - take care of yourselves.
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Re: Beginner Trip Suggestion? 3 days, 10/7-10/9

Postby maverick » Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:32 pm

With this storm hitting Tue-Wed, and the temps being low into Thursday, would
recommend staying below 7000 ft, since the high Sierra will probably still have
snow if it gets the 2 feet that is predicted, and no significant thawing till the
weekend.
Temp predicted as highs at Thousand Is Lake levels will be the upper 40's Sat, and
low 50's Sun, but lows will still be around freezing or below.
Snow, or worse slush, is not a fun to deal with, and if you aren't familiar with the
area your trip is a cross country route since the trail will be covered in snow at the
higher elevations, cool if your experienced in these conditions, but not for a newbie
as an Sierra intro.
Call the ranger stations to get some updates on the back country conditions Thursday
and make your decisions accordingly.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Beginner Trip Suggestion? 3 days, 10/7-10/9

Postby rlown » Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:14 pm

One thought is if you want to intro a beginner into the "back country" this time of year, pick a place you can camp, and just do day-hikes. That way you have a fall-back position that is well stocked. It's much easier to bail on a day-hike kind of outing with a base camp if the weather doesn't suit you.

It's been raining solid here all day, and Tues/Wed is maybe 3/4", so.. I'm loading up the wood and enjoying the fire.. not a fan of solid freezing/thawing/wetness over the weekend in the high country.
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